gathered skirt reprise

So my first gathered skirt didn’t quite turn out how I’d planned. I gave it another try with some fabric that was allegedly “curtains” at the thrift store. It had no rod pocket, and appeared to be two pieces of fabric sewed together with crooked stitches for no apparent reason so no idea what this was in its former life. The fabric is a little unusual in that it almost has a sheen to it, but it worked out okay for this project.

I used the same basic approach that I did on my last gathered skirt. I cut a rectangle, sewed it together to form a tube, hemmed it and put an elastic casing on the top. I did make some changes and add a few details to give this one a bit more polish.

First off, I used way less fabric than the full length of a sheet. I’d approximate it was my waist measurement plus 10 inches or less.

Second, I finished the seams on the side. I just sewed a seam of about an inch and folded the raw edges under to do a narrow hem.

Third, I added a micro-mini paperbag waist. I just made the casing a little larger than the elastic and topstitched around the very top of the casing before inserting the elastic. I think this gives the skirt a little more finish than a simple gathered waist, especially if you want the waistline to be visible with whatever you are wearing on top.

However, I have decided that even with these modifications a gathered skirt is not flattering on me. I’ll keep this one, but I’m moving on to circle skirts and A-lines.


button baby top and car seat blanket

My cousin Emma’s birthday is this weekend and she is turning one year old! I won’t be able to make it out for the party (because I live 10 hours away), but I wanted to send her a special gift to let her and her awesome mother, my Aunt Amy, know that I was thinking of her. What I found in my tutorial search for baby clothes was that a lot of the “patterns” were based on clothes the baby already has to wear. I have no idea what size Emma is other than she is about 12 months around and 18 months tall/long.

Thankfully I found a couple of patterns that had actual sizing on them. This Snappy Toddler Top at Prudent Baby was one of the ones I found that would work for Emma’s size.

The pattern was great and the top came together quickly. I’m not sure how long this will be on Emma, but after she tries this one on I’m going to evaluate the sizing and make some more summer clothes for her.

It’s a little strange that all of my sewing projects have been coming together in two days or less. It makes me wonder if I’m not challenging myself enough. On the other hand, I get things done!

I used buttons from my vast collection instead of snaps. I found the perfect pink buttons that would go with the fabric I used. I’m always a little hesitant when it comes to making buttonholes, but I haven’t had any serious issues with it. I make sure to practice on scrap fabric a few times before I make one on the actual garment to boost my confidence.

I made some small adjustments to the top. I sewed the gathering stitches at 4.5 instead of 5 on my machine so they would hold better, and I added a few extra stitches on either side of the lines because my fabric wasn’t gathering enough to fit inside the neck pieces.

When you fold your neck pieces under, make sure they are folded under enough. Mine weren’t. That neckline seam was the last seam I had to sew on the shirt and I had to rip it out several times before I just repressed the piece and it came out okay.

Another change I made was using double fold bias tape on the armholes and hemline. I had this pink bias tape that went with the fabric already and the struggle of turning under armholes on baby garments is more trouble than I wanted on this piece. I thought solid pink armholes might look strange with the pattern, but I had enough extra bias tape to also do the hemline in pink to tie them together.

Coincidentally, Emma already has something made using this fabric. (There are only so many cute prints at Hobby Lobby.)

Shortly after she was born, I used this fabric and a bright polka dot print to make a car seat blanket for her using this tutorial from Running with Scissors. Running with Scissors is the blog that got me pulled in to this whole craft blogging world, but more about that another time.

It was a lot of sewing, especially around the edges with the bias tape, and the bias tape around the buckle holes was a little challenging. If you don’t have enough fabric and don’t feel like buying a new large piece, consider piecing fabric from your stash for one or both sides of the blanket. I had two remnants of the same fabric, so pieced those together and used them for one side.

see the seam?

My aunt and uncle loved this blanket for Emma. She didn’t have to be covered up every time they took her from the car to day care in the morning. When she was sick and had to sleep in her car seat for the night, the blanket worked perfectly. I think she might be too big for it now but for that first year or so, especially that first winter, it was great! I was glad I was able to make something for them that was so useful in their everyday lives.

Happy first birthday Emma!

baby pillowcase dresses

These dresses have been awhile in the making. I found this post about Magaret Andrade’s project with Little Dresses for Africa on Craftiness is not Optional and decided to make a couple of dresses to send. (For more information about her project, you can contact her at

Many of the dresses they receive are pillowcase-sized so if you are looking to make a needed size, I’d suggest a baby dress or a dress for a teen. I lined my dress by making it two layers because the pattern was on a white background and I didn’t want it to be see through.


I cut these two dresses out weeks ago, but hit a wall when I realized I was out of double fold bias tape. They went back on the shelf for a while I was working on some other projects. The fabric is the same fabric I used in my apron project, a thrifted bedsheet. In the meantime, I found a rummage sale skirt I decided to dismantle. The skirt, which will hopefully be appearing as something else on here soon, had a lot going on, including this trim.

I decided to remove the trim from the skirt and use it on the dress instead. The other dress looked too plain compared to the trimmed dress so I sewed a strip of white fabric into a tube, turned it, and pressed it and then attached the fabric tube to the bottom to add a little polish. I used double fold bias tape on the armholes and used a thin tube of fabric folded in half and topstitched for the ties.

If you aren’t sure what size to make your dress, you can check out the link here. There’s also some great ideas for different variations of pillowcase dresses over on The Mother Huddle.

Edit: I rediscovered the link to the tutorial I followed when I was flipping through bookmarks on my Kindle. I used the baby pillowcase dress tutorial on Prudent Baby in the 0-3 months size.

I’m envisioning these dresses going to sisters, or little best friends. They’ll go out in the mail this week, along with another present for a special little girl (my next post!).

twisted strap top

I bought my first knit fabric at Joann’s with my mom when I was at home visiting my family for Easter. The colors and pattern were a good antidote to the monochromatic v-neck t-shirts I’ve been stocking up on lately. I bought New Look 0138, as it says on my pattern, or 6108, as it says online, to make my top.

I made my sweatshirt fleece jacket first, which I will post soon, to test out my “sewing my own clothing” skills last weekend. After a good experience with that project beefed up my confidence, I went on to the top. I cut it out and started sewing on Friday night and finished it up Saturday afternoon. With only four pieces: front, back and front and back facings, it was very simple to put together. I also bought a walking foot on my trip, so I felt prepared for my first tangle with knit fabric.

In both version B and C you make a pleat at the top to give a creased look. I made version B where you also twist the straps. Since the ease was 3.5″, I made one size smaller than I would have based on the straight measurements. My only (minor) issue is a little armpit sag. Overall my first experience working with knits was cake, except for breaking my needle on a large seam at the end.

I had a love-hate relationship with this fabric. I kept trying it on with the jeans I was wearing and feeling ambiguous, but once I put it on with a black skirt I was sold. It’s lightweight and comfortable and will wear well in the hot summer months here in the South.

So to summarize I conquered my first knit fabric, have a new top, learned how to use a walking foot and am entering my first sewing contest over at Made By Rae! All in all, a good weekend.

cute sleep shorts

I found this tutorial for cute sleep shorts at Prudent Baby and knew I had to have a few pairs. I’ve made two pairs already, and will probably make some more once I get a few other projects out of the way.

I haven’t totally gotten the pattern down yet because I’ve cut mine a little too small both times and had to do a little wiggling over my hips. I did mine with the crotch the same on both sides. I also had issues turning the waistband down because I sloped the waist a little when I cut it out. This means I couldn’t turn the top down evenly on the inside and had to cut a notch in the band so I could actually sew it down to the inside. Since these shorts are for sleeping and not for show, I don’t consider it a huge issue. I thought I did better the second time, but I still had the same issues. Maybe the third pair’s the charm.

The first pair I made from a vintage sheet I really like. I’ve only used it to make a scarf so far but I really like the pattern and colors and it’s very soft. The sheet was going to be sheer even for sleeping so I threw a lining in from another thrifted sheet using the simple double-layer lining technique. Basically, cutting another layer and using the two pieces together as one.

I used both skinny elastic and ribbon for the waistband and sewed buttonholes to run the ribbon out of. Like I said, the waist is a little snug when I pull them on over my hips, but once they’re on they are comfortable.

For my second pair I wanted something fun. I’d picked up a bright blue satin remnant from Hobby Lobby with no intentions, so that became my second pair. It’s kind of a Kentucky blue (Go Cats!) so that was a bonus.

I used a wider elastic for these and no ribbon. They are very comfortable, especially for sleeping. These were also tight at first, but either I’ve lost a little junk in the trunk or the fabric stretched out. It was my first time working with (poly) satin so I’m not quite sure how that fabric works.

When I get to my third pair, I’ll probably be using another vintage sheet. Hopefully I’ll figure out the waistband and (minor) fit issues then.

tote and clutch from upcycled sweaters

I saw this idea for a sweater bag, blogged about here, and found a sweater at the thrift store that I thought would be perfect. I liked this sweater because of the texture, but the turtleneck style was not flattering and the pattern didn’t look so good on an item of clothing. The cables were very thick, but after I used Decor Bond on the outside pieces a little of the thickness was compressed.

sweater pattern detail

This bag was actually my first sweater bag, even though I blogged about the yellow sweater bag first. I made this bag for my mom’s birthday present, since her favorite color is purple and she could always use another bag, but had to wait several weeks until I went home for Easter to give it to her.

I used the Lemon Squeezy Home sweater purse tutorial as the basis of this bag. Since this was my first bag, there were a few things I would have done differently. I figured out I should box the corners on the lining to get a better fit. Another change I made was the way I put the bag together. I wanted to keep the narrow ribbed edge on the sweater visible, so I made the inside and outside separately and left the lining longer than the outside fabric. When I inserted the lining into the outside, I turned the top down between the inside and outside for a finished edge and topstitched two rows. If you are going to do this, make sure your pieces are very, very close to the same size. My lining was a little too big and it was a bit of a challenge to match up the tops.

I was all set to make a black lining and handles for this bag (like I used in my Kindle Fire case made from the same sweater) since the purple was kind of an unusual color. Then I found this fitted twin sheet at the store, and even though I normally go for flat sheets, the fabric was too cute and I had to buy it. I bought it to make a baby dress and diaper cover out of, and then the one of the purple shades perfectly matched the color of the sweater! I still have black handles that I’d already made to use for something else, but I’m glad I waited to start assembling the bag.

I was so excited to give a handmade gift to my mom, who is the whole reason I know how to sew. She’s using it to carry her music to church.

Over the next weeks of thrifting and yard sales, I found several more sweaters. One of these was a hot pink American Eagle sweater that I wore for a day before deciding it was destined for its original purchase purpose of becoming a bag.

The pink sweater was a v-neck instead of a turtleneck so there was less fabric to work with than the past two bags. It wasn’t meant to become a tote of any real size, so I decided to make a sweater clutch. My sister-in-law’s favorite colors are white, black and hot pink so I paired the sweater with the black lining I’d already cut for the previous bag and a piece of batting and made a stack.

This is just three rectangles of fabric, the batting, then the lining, then the sweater backed with decor bond. The ribbon loop up there is to fasten the clutch, but it should have been flipped and sewn inside instead of facing out. I also should have left a bigger hole when sewing around the edges so this wouldn’t happen.

It wasn’t a big deal and ironed back into place, but I obviously tried to fit too much clutch through that small opening.

Flip it inside out and sew the opening closed. You’ll have a long sweater rectangle. I topstitched at the edge of the clutch with the ribbon, and then folded the sides up and stitched them in place. Finally, I sewed a button on and it was done. The bottom of the sweater had a wide strip of ribbing so I folded it to where the ribbing would only show at the top to give it a more finished look.

This sweater clutch was very easy to make and the SIL liked it!

Love without Boundaries auction

I totally forgot to post that the auction started with working Friday night and all day Saturday. There’s only an hour or two left on most items. One of mine (the bias tape bag) has already closed.

There about an hour or two left on these baby dresses with diaper covers (muti-colored dots here and ecru with red print here), and the crocheted clutch here.

I was hoping they’d go for a little more, but it’s $30-40 raised for a good cause made from supplies I already had on hand.

Click to find out more about the clutch, dresses and diapers covers and bias tape bag.

I’ve been working on a few things lately, including another gathered skirt and a sweatshirt fleece jacket that I’ve been meaning to make since January, so hopefully I’ll have time to finish and photograph soon!